Sunday, April 20, 2008

Subtext

I like to tell new guys to imagine all men and women have a split personality. One mind is logical and the other is emotional. If I had to guess, I'd say on average women have a 35/65 split and men the opposite. The behavior of humans is largely driven by a blend of logic and emotion. Since emotions play more heavily with women you can influence their behavior through, you guessed it, appealing to their emotional mind. The way you do this is through subtext. Subtext is an emotional undercurrent to our physical and spoken communications. Because women are generally more in tune with their emotions, by extension they pick up on subtext much more than men. Body language, tonality and inflection, and also the context of the messages we convey all have subtext whether we know it or not. Understanding the subtext and recognizing the emotions you instill in a woman is a critical aspect of male-female communications. A typical example of this that a woman doesn't even have to like a man in order to sleep with him. In fact she could logically despise him, but that doesn't mean a thing if he conveys good subtext and creates the proper emotions within the woman that generates attraction. To outsiders this often creates cognitive dissonance because at the surface it doesn't make logical sense. She didn't like him, in fact she's repulsed by him, but yet she's sleeping with him anyway. Most people will think she's messed up in the head, but once you consider the impact of emotions and subtext in the genders it all starts to become clear.

A real world example is a woman I once dated. I called her high maintenance while playing cards at a friend's house. That situation is exactly what I'm talking about. To her friends at the table me calling her "high maintenance" sounded like an insult. Heck, even to her logical mind it may have seemed like one. But to her emotional mind it spiked an emotion, conveyed some good subtext, and she felt attraction towards me. It's hard to articulate all of the subtext in the situation because the context had several layers to it, but the common association in the community is what most would call cocky/funny, per David DeAngelo. While I agree with that to a point, that's not all it boils down to.

On the flip side, women constantly try to use subtext with men and we often miss their cues. A classic example is the woman at a party or lounge who is trying to get a guy come talk to her. She purpsoely gives off IOIs and in her mind she feels like she's being so obvious that the other women in the room will think she's a slut. To the guy in question he usually ends up thinking "Does that mean she likes me? Should I go over and talk to her?" or something along those lines. If the guy doesn't read the signs properly then the woman can feel rejected. This actually happens pretty often and isn't exclusive to the singles scene and younger generations. Again, understanding subtext is important not only for single guys, but for married men as well. Reading and writing subtext, so to speak, is a huge part of communicating with women. Sadly most men are oblivious to it. On the other hand, here's a case I think most guys do recognize:

Man: "What's wrong?"
Woman: "Nothing."

That's a lot of subtext for just one word. So much so that most men can actually pick up on it.

Another example most of us have dealt with at one point or another:

Man: "How are you feeling?"
Woman: "Fine."

She's basically saying the same thing as above through identical subtext.

2 comments:

Cro said...

Good post, I think every time a woman has said that to me in the past, I started wondering what I did wrong and obsessing over it.
Now for the past year, if I have had a partner of any kind, FB or mLTR or even a LTR and they say that, I just smile and respond with "cool" and then stack into something else.

It's a form of behavioral conditioning, if she has a problem with me, she must tell me. If she says she doesn't, then I won't spend a second thinking about it.

Great new blog bro,
Cro

meier said...

I have few ideas on this. for over 4 or 6 months i try to figure out subtext.